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September 30, 2014
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Big numbers for Argentina at Paris Book Fair

Visitors walking through the Argentine pavilion at the Paris Book Fair.

Leading event draws thousands of visitors, great sales figures, new translation offers

Throughout the four days of the Paris Book Fair, thousands of visitors stopped at Argentina’s 500-square-metre pavilion to meet some of the 44 writers invited to the event by Argentine and French culture officials.

According to Rodolfo Hamawi, national director of Cultural Industries and main organizer of this year’s agenda, “there were between 6,000 and 7,000 visitors at the Argentine pavilion.”

Leading French bookstore chain FNAC was the fair’s seller and bought some 600 titles in Spanish from Argentine publishing labels to later add the French versions. Bookstore manager Mariano Ramos told reporters the sales had reached 100,000 euros (US$138,000), while Borges and Cortázar’s books sold out. Quino “sold a lot,” and Elsa Osorio, Selva Almada, Pablo de Santis, Laura Alcoba and Ricardo Piglia “sold very well.”

The French publishers were also satisfied with the book fair’s attendance and sales figures. Anne-Marie Métailié, of Editions Métalié, one of the labels that publishes most Argentine authors in France — including Almada, Osorio, De Santis and Mempo Giardinelli, all of them guests of this year’s edition of the fair — told reporters: “The sales figures are incredible, at the end of the first day the books at the Argentine pavilion had sold out. On Saturday, Selva’s book was the third bestseller of the publishing group to which we adhered at the fair.”

“Guillermo Saccomanno and Leandro Avalos Blacha’s books sold very well, both with us and at the Argentine pavilion,” said French publisher Claire Duvivier, from Asphalte, a label that also publishes Leonardo Oyola, Félix Bruzzone and Roberto Arlt. The invited authors were also pleased with the event. Miguel Vitagliano said he was happy “to leave with proposals for translation,” while Jorge Consiglio, who also received several offers for future translations, told reporters: “This makes way for a great level of exposure, it’s only too bad they didn’t schedule meetings and debates with French writers.”

María Pía López, director of the Book and Language Museum, applauded the idea of “strong Argentine literature which should interest French readers. There were visitors swarming at every single activity. The fair helps establish new authors and sparks interest in Argentine culture in general.”

“This fair was like an explosion; the Argentine pavilion was always extremely crowded. The level of interest and curiosity from the visitors was remarkable. They were seeing a different Argentina, almost in contrast to what the military dictatorship meant,” writer Tununa Mercado said.

Poet Diana Bellessi, who received a standing ovation in one of her addresses at the book fair, said that “in spite of the linguistic chasm, I found a great affinity with French writers and readers. A great cultural affinity.” Author Liliana Bodoc had a concise conclusion after participating at this year’s edition of the Paris Book Fair: “The balance is in favour of Argentine literature, not only the authors who were invited here but all of them.”

Herald with Télam

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